Ireland football is on the crest of a wave right now. Following the heroics at Euro 2016 last summer, Martin O’Neill’s men have made an unbeaten start to their World Cup qualification campaign.
The Boys in Green have picked up three draws and three wins, most notably a 1-0 away victory over Austria in Vienna. Ahead of September’s games, they are joint-top of the group, behind Serbia on goal difference. However, the leaders must come to Dublin on Tuesday week, after Ireland’s head to Tbilisi hoping to avoid a banana skin against Georgia.
The permutations are simple at this point for the Boys in Green. If they finish ahead of Serbia and top the group, they qualify for Russia automatically.
However, if they finish in second place, they head for the all-too-familiar murky waters of the play-offs.
Ireland have had a checkered history in the play-offs, and this year is shaping up to be difficult.
With eight teams in the mix, four will be seeded. Considering the fact that France, Italy and Portugal are currently occupying second position in their respective groups, whether or not Ireland would be seeded could prove vital.
Speaking on the prospect, John Delaney said it is unclear if Ireland would be seeded.
“As we face September, my view and I’m sure the manager’s view is, let’s try and go win the group first. If you get to a play-off, we get to a play-off and we’ll deal with it then.
“We have three wins and three draws and if we can get a good result in Georgia it gives us a great platform for the Serbia match.
“One chunk at a time but we’ve got a good chance. We’ve got Moldova in October and a big game against Wales at the end but, listen, if you were told at the start that we’d have three wins and three draws from the first six games, all day long we would have taken that.” Quotes via RTÉ.
It would all be a lot clearer of Ireland put in strong showings over the next four games and top the group!
Make sure to check out the latest episode of Pundit Arena’s Irish football podcast, The Mixer.